If there’s one discovery common to all new moms, it’s that EVERYBODY has advice to offer. A lot of times, it goes beyond kind counsel and on to the here’s-what-you-MUST-do level.
Before I had kids, I attended a baby shower for my friend Lori. One of the women who hosted was Lori’s neighbor and the mom of two small girls. We’ll call this mom Alice.
When it came time to open the presents, Lori took her time to express her gratitude and admire each new gift. It was hard to hear her remarks though, overshadowed as they were by Alice’s exuberant commentary.
“Oh Lori! You’ll LOVE that toy. But you HAVE to give it to the baby during the day—never at night. You’ll thank me for it!”
“Lori, I’m so glad you have that! I’ll show you how to use it. It’s HARD to figure out.”
“Diaper cream, thank goodness! Lori, if you want to know EXACTLY how to apply it, come over and I’ll teach you.”
“Oh, that’s sweet, but you’ll NEVER use it. I never used mine. It just sits on the shelf, collecting dust.”
Alice went on and on, interjecting at every turn. She was so thoughtless, yet so excited, it struck me as funny. Poor Lori did her best to handle the comments with grace, but you could tell her patience was wearing thin.
I’m sorry to say it, but I’ve lately been through the same thing. Neighbors … acquaintances … the wives of my husband’s friends … everybody thinks they know how to raise my baby. Shouldn’t it be obvious that I know her best? Don’t they suspect that I’ve done my research or talked to my pediatrician to figure things out on my own?
Of course, the majority of them are only trying to help. Few strike me as genuinely annoyed that I don’t do things their way.
I also acknowledge that some of the clash is cultural. We live in a very independence-focused society—where most of us like to make our own decisions and do things our own way. This contrasts pretty starkly with what I’ve read about parenting in places like India, where other mothers call each other out when something is done wrong and offer corrections. For them, it is expected and appreciated behavior.
For the rest of us headstrong, willful gals … it’s a learning process. Some people give great advice, and when they offer it in a way that doesn’t scream “My way is the best, one and only way to go!” then I’m happy to try their advice. For all the rest … I may or may not take their advice, but if I do, I certainly won’t do it where they can see!